February 25, 2012

Television shows are popular slot machine themes

The diversity of slot machine themes is broad. Frequently found themes include Native Americans, pirates, animals, money, Greek and Roman, Oriental, wild west/cowboy, space/science fiction and musical groups. Here are more with a television show theme.

Photos by Frank Barning. Click on them to enlarge.

February 21, 2012

Television shows are popular slot machine themes. Manufacturers are known to monkey around.

Slot machine manufacturers often take their inspiration for the design of slots from popular culture. This is often good marketing, but there have been some disasters, too. Slots featuring The Sopranos were a total bust because how the machines played was boring, not exciting like the smash hit HBO series.

If you walked up to a slot having The Fonz prominently displayed, you might give it a whirl. But despite having the incredibly popular character played by Henry Winkler displayed as its artwork, the Happy Days slot was unsuccessful.

There are various slots that are based on popular films, television shows and other pop culture and because players often relate to these themes they are more likely to want to play them.

Photos by Frank Barning. Click on them to enlarge.

February 20, 2012


The infrequently seen Canadian side of Mount Rushmore

Vivian Barning poses for her favorite photographer

The Barnings visited Mount Rushmore (Rapid City, South Dakota) in 2007. Photos do not do it justice. I took all of these pictures except the one from the Canadian side.

Click on photos to enlarge

February 17, 2012

Former big league catcher Dave Valle has grown up nicely


In the late 1970s Frank and I were involved with a team in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. It was a summer league for college players with the potential to turn professional. Among the alumni are Craig Biggio, Rick Cerone and Joe Maddon. We saw many terrific players both in the ACBL and on the All Star teams from the Cape Cod League and other leagues that the ACLB played against.

By the third year of our four year involvement, I had taken over as the General Manager from Frank. Our team held a preseason scrimmage against the Flushing Tigers on a field in Queens, NY. The Tigers were top level high school players looking to either get college scholarships or be drafted by a major league team.

At the end of the game against the Tigers I approached our manager, Ed Mathes, and stated that theirs was an impressive team. I told him that I particularly liked the catcher, Dave Valle, and thought that we should try to interest him in our team once he entered college.

Eddie laughed and said, “He’s not going to college. He’s going straight to minor league ball. We’ll never get a chance to sign him.” Mathes added that "Valle is only 16 years old and some of our players have three years of college baseball experience, but he was the best player on the field today."

As usual Ed was right and Valle went on to a significant major league career, primarily with the Seattle Mariners. Valle, impressive as a high school player, is even more impressive as a retired big leaguer. He can be seen on MLB Network as an expert commentator.

The following is taken from a recent column in Yahoo! Sports written by Tim Brown:

Dave Valle, born and raised in Bayside, New York, was seven years into pro ball, parts of two in the big leagues, when he played in the Dominican winter league for the first time. A catcher, he’d spent previous off seasons in Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela, amassing at-bats, laying the groundwork for what would become a 13-year major-league career with Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee and Texas.

So, he was playing in the winter of 1985 and busing to games through barrios when he began to see through a different prism. His wife, Victoria, had four months earlier given birth to their first child, a boy named Philip. With a son, a family, there came a new responsibility. “I began to look differently at the world,” he said.

The children came to Dave and Victoria and the other players and their wives after a night game. They were 5 years old, 6, maybe 7. And they hadn’t come for autographs, like children in the U.S. might have. As the lights flickered off in the ballpark, and the bus idled, and the streets turned more dangerous, the boys and girls had come looking for food.

Nearby, a woman had set up a small grill in the parking lot. She cooked pieces of chicken and warmed rice and beans. She’d sell a plate to the fans and players on their way home.

Victoria, of Cuban descent and conversant in Spanish, offered the woman a handful of cash and asked her to prepare her entire inventory. With Philip in his arms, Dave passed food to the children.

As they drove away from the parking lot, Victoria turned to Dave and said, “That felt good, didn’t it?” “Yeah, it did,” he said. “You know,” Victoria said, “when they wake up tomorrow, they’ll be hungry again. We didn’t solve anything.”

Five years later as Dave’s career neared its mid-point, the Valles believed it was time to return to the Dominican Republic, to re-engage with the people and their lives, to help the next generation of hungry children. Eventually they founded Esperanza, a non-profit organization that granted small loans to women who needed more inventory for their new and used clothing shops, to men who needed a new pushcart from which to sell bottled water, to hopeful, hard-working and desperate Dominicans who had children to feed and educate and vaccinate.


I feel fortunate that our lives touched Dave Valle’s even for a few minutes more than 30 years ago. He’s grown up nicely indeed.

February 15, 2012

You bet your life, television shows are popular slot machine themes

Photos by Frank Barning. Click on them to enlarge.

We previously posted pictures of slot machines with motion pictures and China themes (dragons and the like). Television shows are also popular on slots, including the vintage programs shown here.


Two friends, Smith and Jones, went together to play the slot machines at a casino. Each agreed that when his allotted money was gone, he would go to the front of the casino and sit on the bench to wait for his friend.

Jones quickly lost all of his money and went to the bench. He waited and waited. After what seemed an eternity, he saw Smith coming toward him carrying a huge sack of coins. "Hey, Jones," said Smith, "how'd you do?" "Well, Smith", said Jones, "you see me here on this bench, what do you think? It looks like you hit it big, though." "Oh yeah," said Smith, "did I find a good slot machine! It's way in the back. I'll show it to you. You can't lose.

"Every time you put in a dollar, four quarters come out."

February 13, 2012

Here are six baseball players who share their name with Valentine's Day

Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine is the manager of the Boston Red Sox. He signed a two-year contract, with a two-year renewal option. He previously managed the Texas Rangers and New York Mets as well as the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. An injury shortened a promising playing career. On May 17, 1973, Valentine suffered a multiple compound leg fracture at Anaheim Stadium when his spikes got caught in the outfield's chain link fence. He was never the same following the injury.

Corky Valentine

Corky Valentine played for the Cincinnati Reds. He was mainly a pitcher in the 1950s but only spent two of those years in the majors. After his career ended, he became a police officer. Valentine died in 2005.

Ellis Valentine

Ellis Valentine was a promising player for the Montreal Expos in 1977. From 1977 until 1980, the outfielder was considered a top player. After an injury in 1980, however, he never quite regained his previous skills. He left Major League Baseball in 1985. In his time after baseball, he has overcome a substance abuse problem and begun working with Baseball Against Drugs, a program to help kids stay away from drugs.

Fred Valentine

Fred Valentine played outfield in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a unique talent who had offers from both professional baseball and professional football after he finished his college career at Tennessee State. He was originally signed by the Baltimore Orioles.

Joe Valentine

Joe Valentine spent three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, 2003 and 2005.

John Valentine

John Valentine was a pitcher and then became an umpire during the early years of baseball. He played for the Columbus Buckeyes in 1883. He spent the next five years as an umpire before he retired in 1888. He died in 1903 at the age of 47.

Note: This article was written by an unnamed Yahoo! contributor, with some editing by your blogger.

February 11, 2012

Public address announcer at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn urged fans to undress

From an old New York Times story by Dave Anderson . . .

And when Ebbets Field was alive, Tex Rickard was as ungrammatical as some of the spectators. Told by an umpire to remind fans not to drape their jackets over the railing above the left-field wall, his Brooklyn voice blared:

"Attention, please: will the people behind the rail in left field remove their clothing."

February 9, 2012

This ought to make you feel better about your computer skills

Tech support: What kind of computer do you have?

Customer: A white one...

Tech support: Click on the 'my computer' icon on to the left of the screen.

Customer: Your left or my left?


Customer: Hi, good afternoon, this is Martha, I can't print. Every time I try, it says 'Can't find printer'. I've even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can't find it..

Tech support: What's on your monitor now, ma'am?

Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me at the 7-Eleven.


Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.

Tech support: Are you sure it's plugged into the computer?

Customer: No. I can't get behind the computer.

Tech support: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back.

Customer: ! OK

Tech support: Did the keyboard come with you?

Customer: Yes

Tech support: That means the keyboard is not plugged in.


Customer: I can't get on the Internet.

Tech support: Are you sure you used the right password?

Customer: Yes, I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it.

Tech support: Can you tell me what the password was?

Customer: Five dots.


Tech support: What anti-virus program do you use?

Customer: Netscape.

Tech support: That's not an anti-virus program.

Customer: Oh, sorry... Internet Explorer..


Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend has placed a screen saver on my computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears.


Tech support: How may I help you?

Customer: I'm writing my first email.

Tech support: OK, and what seems to be the problem?

Customer: Well, I have the letter 'a' in the address, but how do I get the little circle around it?

This one and the next are our personal favorites!

A woman customer called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer.

Tech support: Are you running it under Windows?

Customer: 'No, my desk is next to the door, but that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine.'


And last but not least!

Tech support: 'Okay Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P' to bring up the Program Manager.'

Customer: I don't have a P.

Tech support: On your keyboard, Bob.

Customer: What do you mean?

Tech support: 'P'.....on your keyboard, Bob.



Forwarded to me by a friend, author unknown.

February 6, 2012

I get a big bang out of Mel Solomon's baseball trivia questions

New Jersey attorney Mel Solomon is an old friend from the baseball card hobby and a contributor to our blog. Over the years, first at baseball card shows and now via email, we share trivia questions and other baseball related topics.

We have conversions that only true baseball aficionados would appreciate, several of whom read our blog. They are the ones who complain when non-baseball topics, for example slot machines and travel, are posted here.


On MLB Network's current Baseball IQ series, there was a question to name all of the Hall of Famers who were teammates of Willie Mays. It was around 10 and I knew them all although I did not immediately think of Hoyt Wilhelm, but I would have gotten him with time.

It got me thinking about what Hall of Famer played with the most other Hall of Famers? I spoke to our mutual friend Rich Klein and we agreed that it would be hard to find out about the pre WWII players, but we came up with one post-war player who was at one time or another a teammate of over 15 Hall of Famers. Any idea who he is?

After that I got thinking and I discovered a player who amazingly in a four-year period was a teammate of 17-18 Hall of Famers. This person is not a Hall of Famer but a well known player. Any idea as to the answer to these two questions -- It should give you and Vivian pause to think.


Well, this is just a wild guess, but how about Andy Pafko or Vern Stephens?


Frank, no. Andy Pafko only played with the Cubs, Dodgers and Braves. Vern Stephens played with very few Hall of Famers as he was on bad teams, especially the St. Louis Browns. The Hall of Famer is Orlando Cepeda.

The other player is Sal Maglie. From 1955 to 1958, Maglie went from the Giants to the Indians to the Dodgers to the Yankees to the Cardinals. Remember his 1957 Topps as a Dodger, 1958 as a Yankee with the gold orange background and his 1959 card as a Cardinal.

He played with Mays, Irvin, Wilhelm (New York Giants), then Doby, Feller, Wynn, Lemon and Kiner (Cleveland), then Snider, Robinson, Reese, Campanella, Koufax and Drysdale (Brooklyn Dodgers), then Mantle, Berra, Ford and Slaughter (Yankees) and then Musial (St. Louis Cardinals). Quite a group.


I'm a big fan of the TV show, "Big Bang Theory". At times, the program's dialog reminds me of the baseball card shows of years ago and the people with whom Vivian and I hung out. And that was a good thing.

A perfect example of what Mel Solomon and I share that is so "Big Bang Theory", is his comment concerning Sal Maglie's 1958 Topps card, ". . . as a Yankee with the gold orange background." I can see the card, even feel it in my hands.

February 3, 2012

My favorite 1959 Cleveland Indians: Minnie Minoso, Mudcat Grant and Vic Power


The 1959 season was the first year of my baseball fandom. Living in the country about a hundred miles west of Cleveland, I listened to a great many games on radio, watched several on television and attended one, which was a very, very big deal for me.

The Indians finished second to the White Sox and contended almost to the end, a very exciting season. My favorite players were Orestes “Minnie” Minoso from Cuba, Jim “Mudcat” Grant from miniscule Lacoochee, Florida, and Vic Power from Puerto Rico. Most kids I knew liked these guys a lot. They also happened to be the only three black players on the Indians that year, thirteen years after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers.

Minnie was a good outfielder and hitter. He swung so hard he nearly screwed himself into the ground. At the game I attended he threw ball after ball to the kids in the bleachers during batting practice. He began his career in the Negro Leagues. Soon he came to the majors. He was never a star in the Negro Leagues but his time there caused his big league totals to fall short of Hall of Fame quantity. That its door remains shut to him is an injustice.

Mudcat was in his second big league year as a pitcher. He started and relieved, though his best year was 1965 when he won 21 games for the pennant-winning Minnesota Twins, after the Indians, as was their wont, traded him for almost nothing. He was a nightclub singer in the offseason. Years later he formed the Black Aces. Admission is limited to African-American pitchers who have won 20 or more games in a season. Members often appear together to aid various fund-raising efforts.

Vic Power excelled for the Yankees’ minor league teams, but was traded before he could become the first black Yankee. As a Puerto Rican he was unfamiliar with the rules of Jim Crow and also was simply too flashy for such a conservative organization. He played mostly first base, though he played everywhere except pitcher and catcher before he was through. He played baseball like Carlos Santana plays guitar, a virtuoso’s technique flavored with controlled ecstasy.

Those that break down doors, like Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks, have considerable support. Jackie’s general manager was Branch Rickey. Rosa Parks’ lawyer was Thurgood Marshall. Those that soon follow suffer almost as much without nearly the support. Minnie, Mudcat and Vic will never get their own stamp or holiday, but they, too, were heroic, especially to the kids around Cleveland, black and white.


Darrell Berger has written "Then Roy said to Mickey" with former Yankees outfielder Roy White and "Straight Talk from Wild Thing" with former Phillies pitcher and MLB commentator Mitch Williams, both published by Triumph Books.

He is a native of
Toledo, Ohio and a graduate of Vanderbilt University. Darrell is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Orange, NJ and a tour guide at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, NJ. He has been a featured speaker at the New York City Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), speaking on "Baseball Players as Human Beings."

He was book reviewer with "Baseball Hobby News" for more than 10 years, where he also contributed a monthly column, "The Diamond Mind." He is a Detroit Tigers fan. His three favorite baseball personalities are Ernie Harwell, Bill Veeck and Casey Stengel.

He may be reached at

February 2, 2012


@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ SLOT MACHINES, BABY! @@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Click on photos to enlarge

Blondes Have More Luck

A blonde is in Vegas vacationing with her friends. She stands in front of a candy machine and puts two coins in. She turns the knob and a candy bar falls out. She picks up the candy bar, puts it in her pocket, and proceeds to put two more coins in the slot. She turns the knob again and another candy bar falls out.

She does this again and again and again.

A man stranding three steps away looks on. After her sixth candy bar, he interrupts; “Excuse me Miss? What are you doing?"

Her response?

"Duh! I'm winning here!"

Photos by Frank Barning